Apr. 11, 1999
Poems: "The Shadow-Line," by William Logan, from Vain Empires (Penguin).
Israel began its trial of ADOLF EICHMANN on this day in 1961, the man accused of carrying out Hitler's so-called "final solution," or the killing of millions of Jews in camps like Auschwitz. American soldiers had grabbed and jailed Eichmann at the end of WWII, but he escaped. After dodging in and out of the Middle East for years, Eichmann finally settled in Argentina in 1958. He was arrested by Israeli agents in May, 1960, smuggled out of Argentina to Israel. The trial began in Jerusalem on April 11 and lasted until mid-December, when Eichmann was sentenced to be hanged.
It was on this day in 1951 that PRESIDENT TRUMAN FIRED GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR as head of United Nations forces in Korea. When the Korean War began in 1950, MacArthur was placed at the head of the U.N.'s army, and told only to contain the conflict and not let it spread to China and turn into World War III. MacArthur started writing letters to American leaders: he wanted to expand the war, take it to China and use nuclear weapons, and Truman fired him for insubordination.
WWII German bombers began their blitz of COVENTRY, ENGLAND on this day in 1941 a center for Britain's rayon manufacture, electronics and ordnance. Fifty thousand houses and dozens of businesses were flattened, and about the only things left standing in Coventry were the old medieval spires of St. Michael's Cathedral and Grey Friars' Church.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, THE GREAT GATSBY, was published on this day in 1925; the story set in West Egg, New York about Jay Gatsby and his lost love, Daisy Buchanan, narrated by Nick Carroway. Fitzgerald wrote it during the previous fall and winter when he was living in France, and Scribners brought it out with an initial print run of 21,000 copies, then ran another 3,000 copies a few months later. It had a mixed reception at the time, but earlier this year readers of the Library Journal ranked The Great Gatsby in the top 15 novels of the century.
Abraham Lincoln gave his LAST PUBLIC SPEECH on this date in 1865 in Washington. The Civil War had ended two days earlier and his first priority was bringing the Confederate states back into the Union. He hoped that the new state governments would find ways for whites and blacks to work together for instance he wanted blacks to be given the immediate right to vote. Three days later Lincoln was assassinated.
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